Rioja does not stop to amaze me. Since I started drinking the wines of the region, I have known the traditional style such as Lopez de Heredia and Contino among others. In the 90’s, I witnessed the birth of the alta expression movement, sad to say wines full of french oak and caricature fruit.
Now, it seems the natural wine movement is making a small place in this ultra traditional Spanish wine region. The pioneers of this change is Bodegas Moraza. I had the pleasure of discovering this producer while doing another wine assignment at Montreal restaurant Communion. I ordered a glass of their unoaked Viura 2012 and it was a revelation for me. Although, I did not take tasting notes, i was fascinated by its elegance and purity of flavors. Viura is widely grown in Rioja and it is known in Catalan France as Macabeu. It is also a blending partner in the wines of Cava.
Viura has to be handled in the right way to have good results. If you let it grow too much, you will have neutral flavors. Then to fix it, the winemakers would add oak and then you would have wines with excessive makeup. However, this is the not the case of the Viura of Bodegas Moraza. This bottling has a lovely floral and fruit component. It was a killer match with the signature entree dish of crab cakes at Communion.
After inquiring Maxime, the sommelier at the restaurant, I found out that Agence Boires was the representant of Moraza in Quebec, Canada. I contacted Boires and the rest is history.
Charles LL is the owner of the upcoming Agence Boires. Created this last year, this wine and spirits agency has an impressive biological and natural producers list. Agence boires wines can be found in some of Montreal trendiest restaurants such as Laurea and Communion.
So recently, i had the opportunity to meet Charles and his bellisima girlfriend, Maya at their apartment in Mile End, Montreal. I was invited for dinner and it was a good opportunity to talk about Moraza
Bodegas Moraza is located in the Rioja Alta. It is co-produced by Patricio Brongo, Montreal native, partner at Agence Boires and previously involved in the Antolino Brongo cryomalus ice cider proyect in Quebec
Their Garnacha 2013 comes from Abalos in Rioja Alta, specifically from the Caseta and Utrera parcel. These parcel share a similar soil profile to chateauneuf du pape in France. The vineyards are also located at a relatively high altitude around 600 meters above sea level.
Moraza handles the Garnacha the right way. This finicky grapes needs poor soil to encourage low yields. It also sinthesyses in a natural way lots of its sugars, giving wines with a generous alcohol level. But the kicker of the Garnacha is that generates little malolactic acid. This seem like a contradiction, since the grape gives a good acidity which gives a very fresh feeling.
The garnacha cuvee is made the most natural way as possible. From the start, the grapes are picked manually. They are desteemed and fermented in concrete vats using natural yeasts. Afterwards, the wine is aged in very old french barrique for 20 months. All this treatment permits the Garnacha to show its natural beauty.
If I will have to make an analogy with a painting, it will be the Girl with a pearl earring by Vermeer, the famous Dutch painter. If you have seen the painting, you know what I am talking about.
Sadly there is not much of this cuvee. There are only 40 cases of this wine and I will believe that will disappear very fast, once it is discovered and understood by the Quebec sommeliers. This is a new wine that has been permitted in Rioja in the last 3-4 harvest
Garnacha DOC Rioja 2013. $29.17. Case of 12.
A wine of true emotion. A Garnacha in purezza. On the nose, enchanting black raspberry note. It brings to mind, Shakespeare play poems. In addition, a pronounced and profound minerality with ethereal barnyard and yeast nuances recalling Tuscan leather workshop. In the mouth, medium to full body. Razor like acidity, fleshy fruit and crunchy tannins. All mastered and giving the wine an astral elegance. Retronasal flavors remind me of black earth kissed by mist, dark olives and Criollo cocoa bean. Long in the mouth, like the memory of a first love. Infinite persistence. Perfect wine. 100\100